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The Meaning of Naisu (ナイス) — Revealed!

The Meaning of Naisu (ナイス) — Revealed!

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Japanese has a reputation as an insular language, and beginners are often convinced it’s earned. but regular readers of the Linguaholic blog won’t be surprised that its chock full of words borrowed from other languages.

Some of these, like 天ぷら (tempura), have been around in Japanese for so long they masquerade as native Japanese words.

Others, especially English-derived loanwords, are written out in katakana, making their foreignness apparent.

Let’s look at one of these, the word ‘naisu’ (ナイス).

What does ‘naisu’ (ナイス) mean in Japanese?

The word ‘naisu’ (ナイス) is a transliteration of the English word ‘nice.’ Although it can technically be used as an adjective meaning ‘nice,’ ナイス is more commonly used as an interjection to say someone did a good job with something, or that something turned out well. If you need to say a person is nice, it’s better to reach for Japanese words like 親切 (shinsetsu, ‘kind’) or いい (ii, ‘good’) instead.

The meaning of ‘naisu’

Although naisu (ナイス) does represent the English word ‘nice,’ the meaning isn’t a one to one relationship.

In other words, there are some times where ナイス and nice are interchangeable but other times when they aren’t.

Put simply, ナイス is an interjection rather than an adjective. That means you can use it to tell someone “Oh, nice!” but you wouldn’t normally use it to say, “I hope you had a nice time.”

If you want the grammatical details, ナイス is technically a Na-adjective as well as an interjection.

That said, outside of stock 和製英語 (wasei eigo, a type of pseudo-English Japanese phrase) words like ナイスガイ (nice guy) and ナイスジョーク (nice joke), it’s generally used by itself as a way of saying “Good job.”

Of course, there are also other ways to say “good job” in Japanese, as we’ve covered on this blog before.

How to use ‘naisu’ in a sentence

Because ナイス is usually an interjection, it’s usually spoken alone rather than as part of a larger sentence. That makes it easy to use.

Any time you want to say “Good job” or that something turned out well, all you need to do is say [ナイス!]

To use ナイスな as a Na-adjective, simply place the word itself and then a hiragana ‘na’ in front of the noun you want to modify. Although this use of ナイス is not quite as common as using the word as an interjection, it will still make sense.

If you want to add emphasis to the interjection form, you can stress the ス. In writing, this is done by placing a small katakana tsu (ッ) in front of it: ナイッス




“I passed my final exam.”

“Good job!”



“Finally! That stupid bug is gone from the program.”


These examples show the most common use of ナイス in Japanese, as an interjection meaning “nice” or “good job.”


“We met some nice people at the party but went home early.”

Here, ナイス is used as a na-adjective in front of the word [hito] (hito, ‘people’). Just like the English ‘nice,’ the meaning is that the people are nice.

Calling people nice in Japanese

Even though ナイス can technically be used as a na-adjective to call somebody nice, it isn’t the best way to do so in Japanese.

That goes double if you’re a native English-speaker, where any Japanese speakers might wonder if you’ve just forgotten the Japanese words.

Instead of ナイス, try one of the following words when you want to say somebody is a nice person.

How to use 親切 (shinsetsu) to call someone nice

The exact meaning of 親切 (shinsetsu) is that somebody is kind and considerate. It can also be used to call someone friendly or nice.

Just like ナイス, 親切 is a na-adjective. To use it in a sentence, place it and the hiragana ‘na’ in front of the noun you want to modify. 親切 can also be used as a noun meaning ‘niceness’ or ‘kindness.’



“Kouta is a nice person, isn’t he?”


“The main thing I look for in a person is how kind they are.”


How to use いい (ii) to call someone nice

いい (ii) literally means good, but can also be used when referring to people to say that they’re a “good person.” In other words, it can be used to say that somebody is nice.

いい is an i-adjective, so you don’t need to put anything after it to use it in a sentence. Simply place it before the noun you want to modify.

It’s also worth noting that いい can be written using kanji as 良い. However, in practice these kanji are almost never used, and the word is written in hiragana almost exclusively.



“Our mom is a good person.”


Writing foreign words in Japanese

In most cases, foreign words in Japanese are written using a special syllabary known as katakana (カタカナ). This contrasts with native Japanese words, which are written in kanji or hiragana instead.

Unlike its sister syllabary, katakana is blocky and angular, making any words written in it immediately stand out in any Japanese writing.

Katakana has several primary uses today, including to emphasize text or represent onomatopoeia, but the primary one is still writing out loanwords (外来語, ‘gairaigo’) like ラーメン (ramen) and コーヒー (coffee).

This knowledge should make it clear that the word ‘naisu’ (ナイス) is itself a loanword, a transliteration of the English word ‘nice.’